Categorized | Multi-sport, Sports

Ironmanlife: No Kona 2011 for Macca?

Chris McCormack crosses the finish line for the 2010 world championship. (Photo courtesy of Ironman)

(Kevin Mackinnon reports on the news that Chris McCormack might not return to defend his title.)

Surprisingly enough, I’m not surprised to have learn Chris McCormack might not defend his title in Kona next year, as Amanda Lulham reported in The Daily Telegraph yesterday.

During a long interview with the two-time Kona champ in Frankfurt last year, he told me just how much it would mean to get one more Ford Ironman World Championship – proving to both himself and all the naysayers that he could actually do it. His win last year was simply an impressive and amazing performance.

If you’re going to go out, you might as well go out after a race like that one. And this time he remembered to remove the sponges from his trisuit, too, as he went across the line.

Turns out Macca’s fourth place finish in Kona in 2009 was one of his proudest achievements. On a day when he could have just folded, a day when he was dealing with cramps that had taken what seemed like a potential win and turned it into yet another disappointing day on the Big Island, Macca dug deep and held on for fourth.

“The satisfaction from that race came from overcoming that storm,” he told me last July. “From a personal level, if I’m honest with myself, my best ever performance in Kona was last year (2009), my second ever was when I came second to Normann (2006), my third was the year I won (2007). I didn’t win last year, but I gave my best effort and was beaten by better guys.”

The thing is, if Macca listened to all the scientists he consulted to try and help him win in Kona, he simply wouldn’t have ever started the race. Time and time again the results would come back and the news wouldn’t be great.

He sweated too much. He didn’t have the physiology to win in the heat and humidity. Getting that first win in 2007, that should have been enough.

Getting that second win? It was the icing on the cake.

As an avid historian of the sport, Macca knew he was one of just a precious few with multiple Ironman World Championship titles to his credit.

You can ask – I actually called it a few times in Kona last October. “I won’t be surprised if Chris doesn’t come back,” I said.

Now, I didn’t have any idea he would decide to try and make the 2012 Olympic Games in London – that was definitely a shock.

“Dual Hawaii ironman champion Chris McCormack has revealed he will not return to Kona’s lava fields to chase a third world crown but instead wants to help Australia win its first Olympic medal in the men’s triathlon in London,” Lulham wrote. “As Australia’s top triathletes prepare for the Australian sprint titles in Geelong this weekend, in a shock revelation, McCormack said he will even fund himself to small races to pick up the qualifying points he requires to be eligible to race in the events which will help determine Olympic selection.”

“It the one thing in my career I regret, not making an Olympics,” McCormack told Lulham. “This is my last shot. The door swings shut after this. I don’t know if I am fast enough anymore to win but I’d love to be there to help an Australian win a medal.”

Macca always seems to relish a challenge, and he’s taken on a huge one here. Olympic distance racing is very different now than it was when he was one of the world’s premier athletes over the distance.

As fast as he is, you have to wonder how much all those marathon runs have taken from his legs. I’m guessing the likes of Alistair Brownlee, Jan Frodeno, Javier Gomez and Simon Whitfield can’t wait for the opportunity to ask Macca how those legs are feeling as they run through the 5 km of the run in, say, 15 minutes or so.

Hey, we always say “Anything is Possible,” right? How can you not be impressed with a guy who’s willing to get out there and go after what has always been one of his greatest dreams?

Whether he makes it or not, I applaud his courage to try.

(Reach Kevin Mackinnon at

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